Sometimes life travels full circle in the most delightful ways. When I first met Erica Olsen, she was cradled in her mother’s arm at Grand Central Bakery. I worked as the head baker at that time. Erica’s mother worked there too. We were all dusted in flour. That was more than 25 years ago. Now I get to introduce Erica as Macrina’s new pastry chef.
“No smell reminds me of home more than the yeasty smell of rising bread,” Erica says. “My mom was always baking. I love food, and have been working with food since I was 14, but growing up I never thought I’d be a chef.”
That changed when Erica enrolled in the Seattle Culinary Academy where, amongst others, she trained with Chef Kim Maher, the amazing pastry chef at Super Six, and formerly Macrina’s head pastry chef. (If you haven’t tried Super Six’s Malasadas you’re missing out on one of Seattle’s best pastries.) After Erica graduated, she had the opportunity to work with Kim at Super Six where she refined her skills.
Then earlier this year Erica met Jane Cho, Macrina’s production manager, at a Les Dames D’Escoffier Seattle event (A fabulous organization I’ve been involved with for nearly 25 years) and learned Macrina was searching for a new head pastry chef. Connections were made and soon after Erica impressed Macrina’s entire management team with her passion and skill. That flour-dusted child is now a talented flour-dusted adult and I’m proud to have her on the team.
Born and raised on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, Erica still lives near to her childhood home on the hill. She and her girlfriend, Rikke, love to take long city walks with Betty, their dog, a charming blend of dachshund, cocker spaniel, and spitz. A favorite summer activity is berry picking. “Especially raspberries,” Erica says. “Blueberries and strawberries are great, but I’ll eat raspberries until I’m sick.” She’s also an active SIFF member and while balancing a busy training schedule managed to squeeze in several films at this year’s festival.
Erica will spend time working with each café’s pastry team. Her day begins early, but she’s often still working the ovens at lunch. You’ll see her back there, kneading dough and pulling trays of steaming Cornetti and Morning Rolls from the oven in the morning, and tarts and cakes in the afternoon. Erica says, “I’ve got big shoes to fill here at Macrina. The pastries are incredible, and the standards are very high. But I work with a great team and have lots of support.”
Please join me in welcoming Erica to Macrina.